Facebook's announcement of its new energy-efficient datacentre in Oregon was met with great fanfare. No doubt sharing green designs and encouraging collaboration in the industry will make great advances in the long term.
However, if resellers can look beyond the glare of those stylish blue server lights, they will find business opportunities in providing energy-efficient offerings to a wide range of end users.
Facebook has saved money doing things like outside air cooling and implementing new approaches to power backup and distribution, but the Open Compute Project makes no mention of efficient storage that can make applications more effective and reduce power consumption.
Storage is a competitive and expanding market. Almost every organisation wants more storage, but perhaps the fastest growth is within high-capacity installations, in niche sectors such as scientific computing, video editing, image storage and CCTV.
The storage systems used in these applications can consume lots of energy, but offer many opportunities for greater efficiency in the way the systems are designed and the storage is managed.
With cooling often consuming as much energy as the equipment itself, resellers can add value by offering products that consume less power and are also designed to reduce the energy consumed by cooling and air conditioning.
Even the simplest measures within the design can make a difference. While improved cable management that allows unimpeded airflow is one example, a well-designed storage system will minimise the impedance offered to the air using complex fluid dynamics.
Other factors can also have a large impact; for example, increasing the storage density not only saves rack space and real estate costs, but can also improve the cooling efficiency, cutting energy consumption and cost.
The industry as a whole needs to get a grip on the issue of power consumption and understand that improving energy efficiency needs much more than a review of the specified power consumption of a product.
By understanding how to improve the efficiency of the cooling systems, the best way to manage the spin-down of unused drives and the use of techniques such as zoning storage for more efficient management, resellers can add value by providing insight and advice. As the demand for capacity grows - particularly disk-based, near-line storage - the impact of making smart storage choices will only increase.
Something needs to be done to reduce power consumption for the sake of the planet, of course, but I predict that resellers that can offer deep insight into how customers can reduce their energy costs will profit from adoption of energy-efficient data storage.
Niall Smith is sales director at UIT
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